Octopussy

OctopussySynopsis: From a thrilling jet chase to a climactic countdown to nuclear disaster, James Bond is back in an electrifying adventure that pushes the limit for nonstop excitement. Roger Moore portrays the immortal action hero, perfectly capturing Agent 007’s deadly expertise, acerbic wit and overpowering sex appeal as he investigates the murder of a fellow agent who was clutching a priceless Faberge egg at the time of his death.

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Octopussy

Date of viewing: September 5, 2013

1-OctopussyOpening credits

The Thorn: 8.0 – While the acting in opening sequence is horrendous, and the gags are beyond risible (An airplane hidden in a horse’s butt? Soldiers riding around a jeep with their parachutes on?), I had fun. Honest. Sure, Moore had to drive his plane to a gas station to “Fill ‘er up”, but that was classic Moore – for good or bad. The credits themselves were more technically polished than usual, which was nice.

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Unoriginal mix of things seen before. Some of them are laughably bad: like Bond giving the Heimlich maneuver and “airplane” rides to naked chicks.

***

2-OctopussyStory
The Thorn: 7.0 – While I like that the basic idea is less convoluted than the ’70s Bonds were, it seems rather lame to have Bond chase after some jewel smugglers. After having saved the world countless times over, doesn’t it seem beneath him? I like the Cold War elements, of course, especially the idea of a rogue Soviet General, but it’s not taken seriously enough for my taste.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The idea is simple and good: A bad villain betrays a good villain with a crazy villain, and Bond has to sort out the mess.

***

3-OctopussyBanter
The Thorn: 3.0 – ‘Octopussy’ is guilty of  unclever “cleverness”: it’s filled with trite, lame “zingers” that feel forced and are delivered without any real zest or joy. Clearly, the one-liners were a formula that the filmmakers wanted to stick with, but the inspiration was long gone. So they resorted to slapstick and goofy antics, such as having Bond pretend that he’s in a cast until he’s begged for some lovin’. (See my ‘Worst Bond moments’ for gags that really challenged my gag reflex.)
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – There are some cheesy lines but the comical relief is mostly integrated with the action scenes.

***

4-OctopussyVillain
The Thorn: 6.0 – On paper, the villains were probably pretty decent. But the acting is so f-ing horrible that you want them stripped from the screen as soon as they arrive. Steven Berkoff is all-cliché as a the rogue Soviet General, but Louis Jourdan is particularly painful to watch: all googly-eyed and stilted delivery, he was the evil version of Roger Moore. Only more evil.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Kamal, the bad villain, and Magda delivers their lines very badly. At least Gobinda, the henchmen, doesnt speak. Octopussy, the good villain, is well represented by Maud Adams. General Orlov, the crazy villain, does a decent job.

***

5-OctopussyBond Girls
The Thorn: 3.0 – Maud Adams is awesome, but she is miscast as Octopussy (case-in-point, she was original written as an Indian character, which they rewrote for her). Unfortunately, she gets little screen presence, with Kristina Wayborn taking up most of the time as Magda. Scrawny as hell, with a super high brow and no acting skills whatsoever, she ruined every single moment she was in. At least she had one discernible talent: juggling. But does it make her a great Bond Girl? Um, no. Not unless you’re on the receiving end of the juggling, if you know what I mean.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Maud, her second role in a Bond movie, is still extremely beautiful. Also the role of a leader of a community of woman suits her. Madga, beside for her terrible line deliveries, is ok.

***

6-OctopussyGadgets
The Thorn: 7.5 – The yo-yo saw is still a cool-looking device, but it’s awkward, impractical. The watch with the camera and homing device was useful and realistic, but the mechanical “Indian rope trick” that Q devised went nowhere. I remember how thrilled I was with some of the gadgets when I saw this as a kid (haha, geddit?), so I have to consider this in my rating.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – There’s a lot of them. The mic and tracking device is ingenious and makes sense in this mission. Kids will love the bad guys yo-yo of dismemberment. My favorite gadget is actually the piece of clothing that Madga uses to escape Bond.

***

7-OctopussyVehicles
The Thorn: 7.0 – The mini plane is a neat idea if unrealistic (at least with the folding wings), the Auto rickshaw was antithetical, but alright, as were the rest of the vehicles – which were more traditional. But then there’s the hot air balloon, the crocodile submarine, and the afore-mentioned false horse’s butt, to soil everything.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The mini jet at the beginning is pretty cool. Kids will love the crocodile submarine.

***

8-OctopussyLocales
The Thorn: 8.0 – I loved the Soviet briefing room, with its rotating base. And most of the picture takes place in India, which is beautiful, teeming with people, beautiful palaces, courtyards. Unfortunately the last part of the film takes place in sucky East Berlin, which is all grey and bland. Not even Octopussy’s flashy circus could liven up that part of the picture for me.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Great view of the Taj Mahal. I especially like the Russian war room.

***

9-OctopussyStunts
The Thorn: 7.5 – The stunt work is pretty decent, but Roger Moore was getting old and it shows. He does his best to get through the train chase, but the stunt doubles did much of the work and there was lots of blue screening. To make matters worse, the finale has Bond somewhat sidelined, with him floating around in a Montgolfier with Q, lamely quipping about hot air. Seriously.
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – The movie is packed with action scenes and crazy dangerous stunts, but none that impressed me. The most dangerous one are needless, and most action scenes include some distracting comical effects.

***

10-OctopussySoundtrack
The Thorn: 7.5 – This is yet another solid score by John Barry. It’s mildly formulaic at this point, but at least he knows how to make it work and he brought out the Bond theme at great times. It wasn’t often enough for me, though, but when he did, I got octopussbumps.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Not bad, the bond themes were well used at the end.

***

11-OctopussyBest Bond moment
The Thorn: As weird as it may sound, the moment that really did it for me is when Bond, after having his tires shot off, starts driving his car on the train tracks, after the villains. It might just be that John Barry pumped the James Bond Theme at the right time and made the scene more exciting than it should be, but the corniness of the moment didn’t faze me one bit; I chuckled and marveled at once. Dum dum duh dum dum, dum dum, dum duh dum dum, dum dum, nee nee, nee nee nee!
The Horrible Dr. B: Bond sliding stair railings firing a machine gun. Excellent use of music for that scene.

***

12-OctopussyWorst Bond moment
The Thorn: It’s really hard to pick just one. ‘Octopussy’ has three MASSIVELY cringe-inducing moments and they really ruin any fun being had: 1) Bond swinging on a vine and shouting à la Tarzan, 2) Bond hiding in a gorilla suit (and escaping from it – all while the villains are watching! How?), and 3) Bond dressed up as a clown and having the children laugh at him – the lowest of the low for the once-debonair spymaster. This was totally insufferable to me, so I can’t distinguish any nuances in the agony that I felt at each of these occasions.
The Horrible Dr. B: There are many. One of the worst is how Bond manage to hide inside a gorilla suit in a room occupied with 2 bad guys.

***

13-OctopussyOverall impressions
The Thorn: 6.5 – ‘Octopussy’ is a movie that I once really enjoyed – as a kid. But, as I grew older (but not wiser), its lack of maturity started to annoy me. I desperately want to love it: there is so much that is appealing in it, such as the setting, the tone, some of the cast, …etc. But it fails to gel. Furthermore, I started to get bored by the time that Bond left India. Really bored: I couldn’t wait for it to wrap up. Moore was only brought back because ‘Octopussy’ was facing competition from another, unofficial, Bond movie: ‘Never Say Never Again’. Since it featured the return of Sean Connery, the producers were worried they would get their butts kicked if they served up a new Bond. Right or wrong, I wish they had taken a gamble – new blood would have revitalized the franchise at a much-needed time.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – This movie is heavily inspired by Indiana Jones and the temple of doom: same locale, same action type, same humor, same type of suspense, and same target audience: the movie is obviously made for kids. Bond is goofy and all the action scenes ends in a comical twist. The movie is very well done and well constructed, but always cheesy and gimmicky. Of all the movies in the series, this is the one I would choose to show to kids; they’ll love it guaranteed. However I bet that the adults won’t like it as much.

James Bond Will Return inA View to a Kill

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